DJ Mikey Monkey and Bongo Clara lead the troops. Photo: Caroline and Karl of LOVEphotography
Even as a parent, the sight of around fifty under-5s in an enclosed space can be a little bit frightening. So stepping into The Space at Nottingham Contemporary to be faced with a mass parent and toddler group was initially quite unnerving. I realise I’m being silly because babies and toddlers, like spiders, are on the whole quite harmless. And speaking of spiders, that was the reason I was actually in a room with so many little people. You might have missed the news bulletin that day, so to get you up to speed, Incy Wincy’s boom box was broken and he had called on the good people of Bongo Bongo and their friends to help him fix it.
The brainchild of Sophie Johnson-Hill and Rebecca McGlone, Bongo Bongo run weekly music-based play sessions around Nottingham – they’ve also recently branched out to Manchester and London too – for children. Trying to step away from the tedium that can be children’s play groups, they also got pig sick of hearing mournfully bad versions of nursery rhymes. Thinking right outside of the box they decided to get together some of Nottingham’s musical talents to create an album of re-imagined nursery rhymes including a reggae version of Heads, Shoulders, Knees and Toes and a shanty version of Row, Row, Row Your Boat. As you can imagine, the album launch was as off-the-wall as the album, and just as much fun.
photo: Caroline and Karl of LOVEphotography
When the Bongo Bongo crew first came on stage to help Incy Wincy, there were a few brave kids in the audience who were happy to get up and join them for a bit of a dance, but most of the audience politely sat watching and dancing where they sat on the floor. The crew all seemed to be having a right laugh and it must have been infectious because slowly but surely more and more of the little ones got up to happily charge around among the puppets, props and strangers. Meaning that the mums and dads had to get up and charge around too. If you’d have walked in half way through you would have wondered what the hell was going on with little and big people running about and dancing with a monkey.
Rapper Karizma, and his son JDizzle, were there to do their rendition of The Wheels On The Bus, while the Bongo Bongo girls sat on their big red bus on the stage. We were also treated to some breakdancing from JDizzle and his friend, which in turn led to many of the toddlers trying to imitate them with their bums in the air and limbs being waved. Rob Green’s video of Five Little Monkeys showed that crazy monkeys jumping on a bed can be a laid-back, soulful affair. The Smears punky version of Here We Go Looby Loo was played nearer the end of the session and there are definitely some future punks in our midst as frenzied kids started bouncing and jumping around to the fast-paced track. You could be forgiven for thinking that The Seas of Mirth, a pirate band, got together just so that they could record Row Row Row Your Boat. Crocodiles and screams included. Other artists that feature on the album are Nina Smith, Scorzayzee, The Broom Hill String Band, Marita Robinson, The Elementz, Shot Crab’s Got Jail, Dr Comfort and the Lurid Revelations, The Forgeries and, of course, the Bongo Bongo crew. Plus, being good hearted souls, 10% of the proceeds are donated to The Children’s Air Ambulance.
Karizma and JDizzle helping feed the plant. Photo: Caroline and Karl, LOVEphotogrpahy
Just when I thought I couldn’t hop, bounce, chase and dance anymore, we’d found all of Incy Wincy’s buttons for his broken boom box and he could fix it. Happy and able to play music once again, we all left with a fat slice of celebration cake in hand and a dizzy feeling from all the excitement. A CD definitely worth owning - no more saccharine sweet, badly produced, dubiously sung nursery rhymes in our house. Here’s hoping Incy Wincy breaks his boom box again because kids’ parties are the best.
Incy Wincy Boom Box Launch Party was held on Saturday 22 June at Nottingham Contemporary. CDs can be purchased from the Bongo Bongo website, itunes and Amazon.
Bongo Bongo website
Incy Wincy Boom Box blog